DISCLAIMER: I am not medically trained but everything I discuss in this blog is based on personal experience and knowledge I have gained as a diagnosed Aspie. I would always recommend that anyone who is suffering with any issues relating to this or my other posts, please seek professional and medical advice.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about why it takes so long for girls to get diagnosed with Aspergers. I have a friend who wasn’t diagnosed until she was 18, and I had been to and from doctors and therapists trying to work out what was wrong with me which eventually lead me to get diagnosed at the age of 12. I found the reason for this was because girls have a tendency to struggle more during their early teens, so during their early life, signs go unnoticed. During the early teens, socialising becomes a big part of a girl’s life. It’s a huge learning curve for everyone, but if you’re someone who doesn’t understand the rules of social communication, it becomes harder for you to mingle in with the crowed. It’s easy for you to sit at the sidelines and not interact with people because why bother if you don’t know how? Or you could easily misunderstand things, trying to fit in with your classmates. Sometimes messing up makes people think that you’re stupid and gives them a purpose to begin bullying you. Along with not understanding socialising and being picked on for being different, it becomes exceptionally stressful for a young, female Aspie.
Throughout this particular difficult time, other things this Aspie may find challenging, will suddenly become noticeable. And it’s mostly because they link in with socialising. Depression and anxiety is commonly the result with this kind of situation. With myself, I had an autistic breakdown because everything was too much to cope with. This won’t always be the result for female Aspies during their school years. My friends actually succeeded very well in school. But because these experiences tend to happen at a vulnerable age, it’s easy to dismiss it as mere bump in the road. Of course now though, females with Aspergeres are becoming more recognised. It’s becoming more apparent that girls struggle mostly with socialising during their early teens, when this experience is most crucial. This leaves them younger years a mystery to the child themselves, and the parents. There are probably some challenging difficulties that leave everyone thinking that this child is most likely nuts. But only because the symptoms aren’t properly noted. See, everyone seems to know how Aspie boys behave at a young age, but it’s become difficult to register how girls with Aspergers behave at a young age because they often aren’t diagnosed until they’re in their teens.
My mum and dad once went to a group session to meet other parents who had daughters with Aspergers who were in their early teens. My mum explained to me how these young girls were very similar to how I behaved at their age and being much older and more aware than these younger girls, I was able to sympathise with them. I could understand why they would do rash things to avoid going to school, I could understand why they would want to dye their hair an outlandish colour (I even used to wear jeans with one leg black and one white). And with hearing how distressed some of these parents were, I wanted to be able to meet them and tell them that I was once like their daughter and with the right help, things can improve.
I met a young girl too, in a group session I went to myself and it felt just like looking in the mirror. She sat in the corner of the room with her head in her hands and just stared at the floor. I was 18 at the time and I had understanding and self awareness on my side, but I could tell that she didn’t have a clue. She was most likely terrified and confused. And again, I felt like hugging her and just telling her that it would all be okay.
These two scenarios have stuck with me since they happened, hence why I decided to write a blog. Because it was painful to hear those parents struggling and see how that young girl reminded me of myself and that she was so lost and confused. It has driven me to put my experiences and knowledge of this, out there and hopefully give people confidence that it is okay and with the right help, it will be okay.